FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
February 1, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
East Elmhurst, N.Y. — Council Member Costa Constantinides last night outlined a bold vision to enhance resiliency, sustainability, and opportunity throughout District 22 in 2019. His State of the District address at P.S. 2 — The Alfred Zimberg School called for a re-envisioning of Astoria Boulevard, more renewable energy within Council District 22 schools, and replacing the jail on Rikers Island with green infrastructure.
“I am honored to represent such an engaged community that came out not just for last night’s State of the District, but to so many events throughout the year,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “We will build upon our first five years of progress together to make the central roadway of our District safer, make it less costly to power our public schools, and reimagining Rikers Island as the epicenter for 21st Century infrastructure.”
Constantinides called on the New York City Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive review of the 4.5-mile Astoria Boulevard, which runs from the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to Citi Field. Despite efforts to keep large trucks merging onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the street has still seen significant backups and accidents in the last year. The Council Member also suggested a new station house with a parking garage to replace the 50-year-old home of the 114th Precinct, recognizing the current layout leads to blocked intersections, sidewalks, and overpassees.
Building upon this week’s news that six Council District 22 school will be powered with solar energy, Constantinides declared P.S. 2 would become the first carbon-neutral school in New York City. A City scanning tool shows the East Elmhurst school qualifies for geothermal energy, which uses ground water for heating and cooling. Geothermal eliminates the need for fossil fuel-burning boilers and keeps long-term energy costs low. Solar panels will also be added to give the East Elmhurst school a clean, renewable source of electricity.
The Council Member also introduced a plan to replace the beleaguered jail at Rikers Island with “critical environmental infrastructure,” as former New York State Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman recommended in 2017. Mayor de Blasio has vowed to close the detention center within the next decade in favor of borough-based jails, freeing up the 400-acre Rikers Island, which is located within District 22.
Constantinides’ Rikers plan, building off research conducted by the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform, calls for 100 acres to be used for solar energy creation and battery storage. Doing so could close some of the secondary power plants within city limits, many of which are in environmental justice neighborhoods. New York City would also be able to build a new sewage treatment plant that’s resilient against rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. Doing so would enable the City to close facilities in Astoria and College Point in Queens as well as Hunt’s Point in the Bronx, all of which are aging, overburdened, and push sewage into our waterways when it rains more than half an inch.
The Council Member also highlighted some of the major victories District 22 residents accomplished in 2018, such as park improvements, affordable housing, and education. Those include:
- Beginning construction on the new soccer field and running track in Astoria Park, which is the first phase in a historic $30 million investment from the Mayor’s Office.
- Winning complete funding for a senior affordable housing development at Broadway and 31st Street, which Speaker Corey Johnson announced at his District 22 town hall in October.
- Securing more than $3 million in partnership with Speaker Johnson to complete the full renovation of the Astoria Library.
- Funding construction of new hydroponic science labs in six Council District 22 schools, which will give tomorrow’s leaders hands-on lessons in biology, nutrition, agriculture, and technology. Constantinides also recently opened two of these in-school greenhouses in earlier budgets.
- Working with the Queens Delegation, led by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, for a $450,000 for three ultrasound units and cardiac monitoring systems at Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on the For-Hire Vehicles, Land Use, Parks, and Transportation Committees and the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.